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Nat Cell Biol. 2011 Jan;13(1):66-71. doi: 10.1038/ncb2136. Epub 2010 Dec 5.

Direct reprogramming of fibroblasts into epiblast stem cells.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Röntgenstrasse 20, 48149 Münster, Germany.


Epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) derived from epiblast tissue of post-implantation embryos are pluripotent and can give rise to all three germ layers in teratoma assays. Introduction of the four transcription factors Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc into somatic cells has been shown to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that are very similar to embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in a number of characteristics. However, generation of EpiSCs by the direct reprogramming of somatic cells using these transcription factors has not been shown to date. Here, we show that these transcription factors can be used to directly generate induced EpiSCs (iEpiSCs) under EpiSC culture conditions. iEpiSCs resemble EpiSCs in morphology, gene expression pattern, epigenetic status and chimaera-forming capability. This study demonstrates that the culture environment in transcription factor-mediated reprogramming determines the cell fate of the reprogrammed cell. We therefore hypothesize that it will eventually be possible to shape the identity of a directly reprogrammed cell simply by modulating culture conditions.

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